Week 121 | March 30, 2016 ~
It’s a new day in the world of Tank Storage primarily due to fluctuation in the weather and the advent of new methodologies, equipment and materials. With the changes in tanks themselves, and the volatile substances they store, new and focused attention is warranted. Add in the projected increase in lightning storms, the strength of those storms, as well as the fact that storms are influencing situations in locations where they once were rarely seen, the industry needs to take care.
Sometimes I feel as though my warnings are falling on deaf ears. The more we build and explore, the more changes we incur and the more product we produce, the more we need to pay vigilant we need to be. Exploration and extraction are increasing. Substances are more temperamental and lightning safety needs to become a major part of any operations planning.
Recently my colleague, Joe Lanzoni wrote this piece for Hydrocarbon Engineering’s Tanks and Terminals issue. It is well worth the read and it confirms much of what I have been saying. The industry at large recognizes lightning as one of their biggest threats. Unfortunately producers still think of Lightning Protection as a luxury item. I assure you it is not. The worst calls I get are after the fact, when it is too late. Millions of dollars are lost each year by companies who either ignored protection altogether or collected a strike into their environment without the proper solution in place which encompassed all the aspects of a lightning strike from direct strike protection to proper grounding and surge solutions to counter the secondary effects of lightning.
Once again, Lightning is just around the corner in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere got hit hard in the 2015/2016 summer. Just ask Australia and Brazil, South Africa and others. The majority of us live in the Northern Hemisphere, so now is the time to start research and create your plan. If you don’t have a plan, it might be too late starting next month.
Fires involving petroleum storage tanks are not uncommon. About one-third of all tank fires are attributed to lightning. Floating roof tanks (FRT’s) and non-metal tanks are especially vulnerable to lightning. In 1999 the American Petroleum Institute (API) created a technical committee to evaluate this situation and to recommend solutions. As a result, the API issued API RP 545, The Recommended Practice for Lightning Protection of Above Ground Storage Tanks for Flammable or Combustible Liquids.
The API 545 committee invested substantial resources into directed research and testing. Two of the key findings from the test program were that (1) when lightning current passes through shunts at the roof-shell interface on an FRT, it will result in arcing under all conditions; and (2) it is the slow component of the lightning stroke which ignites flammable vapors. Therefore, when the slow component of a lightning stroke passes through any roof-shell interface on an FRT, if flammable vapors are present they will likely be ignited. As a result, API RP 545 recommends several modifications to FRT’s…read more
As always if you have any questions or need additional information please feel free to contact me at LightningDiva@lecglobal.com
Be careful out there! Visit www.lightningprotection.com for all your lightning protection needs. Follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for more information and updates as well as some great photos.